|New Public Service Campaign “It’s Not A Joke” Tackles Difficult and Often Overlooked Issue during Food Allergy Awareness Week
McLean, Va. (May 23, 2013) -- Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) yesterday reintroduced the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (H.R. 2094), legislation championed by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). This bill encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to have on hand “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors, which is epinephrine that is not prescribed to a specific student but can be used for any student or staff member in an anaphylactic emergency. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and can be fatal.
In addition to protecting those whose epinephrine auto-injector is not immediately accessible during a reaction, this legislation will help save the lives of those who experience an anaphylactic reaction and do not have a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector. Studies estimate that up to 25 percent of all epinephrine administrations that occur in the school setting involve individuals whose risk for allergy was unknown at the time of the event. In 2012, the National School Boards Association issued new food allergy guidelines recommending that schools stock epinephrine.
More than 20 states have laws or guidelines in place allowing schools to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors. The proposed federal legislation would provide an incentive for states to require schools to stock epinephrine.
“No child should die of an anaphylactic reaction because life-saving epinephrine is unavailable,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “This bill will help make millions of school children with food allergies safer. We are grateful to Dr. Roe and Mr. Hoyer for their leadership on this common sense legislation.”
The bipartisan bill was originally introduced in the 112th Congress in 2011. Sens. Durbin and Kirk introduced the bill in the Senate, while Reps. Roe and Hoyer introduced it in the House.
As a physician, Rep. Roe has seen the life-saving effects of epinephrine firsthand. He once saved the life of a landscaper working in his yard who had an anaphylactic reaction to an insect sting.
“I am proud to introduce the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act because this important legislation could save lives,” he said. “According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, roughly one in 13 children under age 18 have at least one food allergy. A systemic allergic reaction can kill within minutes. To prevent a fatal outcome, we need to make epinephrine auto-injectors available in our schools. You can never be too careful when protecting the life of a child and this legislation will ensure we’re taking every precaution we can to ensure children are safe should they have an allergic reaction at school. I want to thank Rep. Steny Hoyer for his support of and work on this bill.”
“For the nearly 6 million children in our country who suffer from food allergies, including my granddaughter, it’s vital that our schools have immediate access to emergency epinephrine in the event of an allergic reaction,” said Democratic Whip Hoyer. “That’s why I re-introduced legislation to encourage states to have epinephrine auto-injectors on hand in schools and to ensure that school personnel are trained to quickly respond to an emergency allergic reaction. I will work to enact this legislation so we may provide peace of mind to families across the country. I thank Food Allergy Research & Education for their endorsement of this bipartisan legislation and for their advocacy for life-saving measures at both the national and state levels.”
In addition to FARE, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine have endorsed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.